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Minister Hogan Announces Designation of Dublin Docklands areas as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ)


Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, today (19 December) announced details of the designation of the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock areas of the Dublin Docklands as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ).  This will provide for continued fast-track planning in designated areas on the wind up of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) next year. 

The SDZ designation, proposed by Dublin City Council as the development agency, has been made in the context of the Government’s decision last May to wind up the DDDA and Minister Hogan’s commitment to provide for continued availability of fast-track planning in order to maintain the attractiveness of the Dublin Docklands area as a prime location for inward investment.

Welcoming the SDZ designation as the first step towards developing a comprehensive planning framework for the area, Minister Hogan acknowledged the importance of facilitating the continuation of development and economic activity in the centrally located and much sought-after Docklands area.  Further, he emphasized the need for fostering of community interaction and local initiatives to ensure that the area continues to grow in a sustainable and inclusive manner. 

“One of the major advantages of the SDZ process is the wide-ranging consultative measures built into developing the SDZ planning scheme to ensure as inclusive an involvement and input from the full range of stakeholders in the area.  Through this SDZ, we can facilitate the key stakeholders in the area – residents, businesses and potential investors - to help shape the future planning and build-out of this strategic city-centre location and sustain the good work already achieved by the Authority in re-developing this vibrant and successful urban quarter.”   
Dublin Docklands SDZ
The North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock area of the Dublin Docklands comprises some 66 hectares of the overall 520-hectare Dublin Docklands area and is where the greatest focus and pressure for redevelopment is likely to occur in the short to medium term. 

The lands included in the SDZ (for which there are two DDDA planning schemes to guide their development) extend north and south of the River Liffey at a strategic location:  North Lotts immediately adjoins the IFSC and includes the site of the Convention Centre, while Grand Canal Dock is in close proximity to the city’s central business district and south city retail core area. 

Within the 66-hectare zone, there remains a number of strategic sites and vacant developable lands which make up 22 hectares (or 55 acres) of development potential for major economic and community expansion, a substantial scale in the context of city-centre regeneration.  The capacity of the proposed SDZ lands is estimated to be 350,000m2 of commercial floorspace (enough to accommodate 30,000 employees) many of which are likely to be in high-value financial, technological and services sectors, with potential for up to 3,300 residential units (capable of housing a population of 6,600).

The proposed SDZ will support an eastward extension of Dublin City Centre and the areas involved are well-served by high-quality public transport, including Luas, DART and mainline rail commuter services, while the more long-term proposals for a DART underground station at Spencer Dock would potentially result in the lands becoming the most accessible and connected part of the city.  The Samuel Beckett Bridge provides a vital link between the two locations north and south of the River Liffey.  The area, which encompasses several major attractions, including the Convention Centre at Spencer Dock, the O2 Arena at the Point Village and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre at Grand Canal Dock, has the potential to become a major magnet for employment and cultural and leisure uses of national importance.
Over the coming months, Dublin City Council will undertake wide-ranging consultations to inform and shape the development of the SDZ planning scheme, which will ultimately be approved by members of the City Council (with input from the Docklands Board, Council and Community Liaison Committee).  In the intervening period until the new SDZ comes into effect later in 2013, the current Docklands Section 25 planning system remains in effect, whereby applications will be assessed against the current North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock planning schemes and the Docklands Master Plan. 

Minister Hogan reiterated the importance of facilitating continued development activity in the Docklands area, especially where there is scope to attract new businesses, including major multinational firms, which may wish to establish offices in this prime city centre location. 

“The Government want to continue the revitalisation and regeneration of this strategic area and we are committed to providing a seamless transition from the current Section 25 planning process to the new SDZ arrangements to maintain this momentum and foster market interest in these prime sites.  In this context, I would encourage the Authority to continue to work with potential developers and landowners, as well as with the City Council and NAMA (which has an interest in some key sites in the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock areas) to invite and consider new development applications in the short term. I intend to make appropriate arrangements to enable this smooth transition, including legislative clarity where necessary, regarding the completion of developments granted certification and under construction.”


Note on SDZs

The Planning and Development Act 2000 makes provision for the creation of SDZ sites by Order of the Government, where specified development is of economic or social importance to the State.

SDZs provide for the integrated and co-ordinated development of sites within a fixed planning framework.

Where land is designated as an SDZ by Government Order, the planning authority must prepare a draft planning scheme in respect of all or any part of the site within 2 years of the Government Order.  This means that the planning scheme for the designated lands in the Dublin Docklands must be prepared by 18 December 2014.  However, given the existence of well-developed planning schemes for the two areas and substantial preparatory work already carried out by the DDDA and City Council, it is expected that the associated SDZ planning scheme would be in place by the end of November 2013, which coincides with the expiry of the DDDA’s Masterplan for the Dublin Docklands area.

When prepared, the draft planning scheme will be displayed for six weeks for written submissions or observations, and the Dublin City Manager is required to submit a report on such submissions and observations for consideration by Council no later than 12 weeks after giving notice of the draft planning scheme

Following the Council's making of the planning scheme, any person who made submissions or observations in respect of the draft planning scheme may appeal the decision of the planning authority to An Bord Pleanála within four weeks.

Once approved by An Bord Pleanála, the planning authority must grant permission for any development which is consistent with the planning scheme, with no right of appeal to An Bord Pleanála against the decision of the planning authority.